The Krokus Gallery presents an exhibition by the Slovak artist Svätopluk Mikyta and the Austrian artist Moussa Kone entitled “Follow the Line”.
The artists come together for the first time at this joint exhibition, which is also the premiere of Moussa Kone’s work in Slovakia. The title of the exhibition is a challenge to follow the common lines in the work of both artists, linked by an interest in the medium of drawing and graphic art. It also refers to the conceptual aspect of their artistic programmes; they both think about their themes in a conceptual manner and deal with them in complex cycles. And last, but not least, they share a joint enthusiasm for “manufactured” work, both drawing, graphic art and intermedial overlaps. The consistent awareness in both artists of belonging to what was once the basic skill of every fine artist combined with conceptual thinking results in surprising crossovers and relationships.
On graduating from the University of Applied Art in Vienna, the trained painter Moussa Kone decided on the medium of drawing, in which he continues to work today. A strict linear form is typical of his Indian ink drawings on paper and Kone records even the tiniest structures with his remarkable sense of detail and almost 'manic' precision. His carefully worked drawings bear witness to the patient draftsman’s steady hand. He skilfully combines detailed linear drawing with empty spaces or blocks of black colour, thus creating strong contrasts.
Drawing also has a fixed place in the work of Svätopluk Mikyta. Over the last few years, Mikyta has come to the notice of the public in Slovakia and abroad, particularly as the author of re-drawings of reproductions from old books and printed papers which he joins together into larger units, and site-specific installations. His wide-ranging cycle of diary drawings which he began to make in the middle of the 1990s are less well-known and are a sort of parallel work-in-progress universe to his other planar works and installations. In his playful, sometimes even surreal, compositions, he gives an ironic treatment to everyday experiences, the question of national identity and the motif of the self-portrait. In Moussa Kone’s case, his diary drawings are a closed set of over one hundred drawings dating from 2009, the result of his stay in Berlin and which were published in the Quart magazine. Kone works on one drawing for as long as several weeks and this format of a daily record presented a challenge for him. At the beginning of the exhibition, we present a selection of the diary drawings of both artists. They are records of their very personal stories, spontaneous experiments and yet motifs that are characteristic of their other work appear in them, such as Kone’s interest, for example, in social control which he also worked on in the series “Chelsea smiles” (2011-2013).
Bibliophilia is another intersection in Moussa Kone and Svätopluk Mikyta’s work, although it leads to different output. They are both interested in the book as a carrier of knowledge as well as an object. Mikyta is well-known for his collector’s passion for old publications which he uses in his work; Kone has co-operated several times on book projects, the latest being for the artist’s edition of Moby Dick Filet published by Harpune Verlag Wien. In many of his drawings, Kone reflects the process of creative work itself as a record of the world, its opportunities and its limitations. In his drawing entitled “out of the closet” (2013), the central figure is rummaging through a drawer (a play on words with the verb “to draw”) which is a metaphor for the artist’s work: selecting and visualising thoughts as a conflict of interest between infinite freedom and the need for self-limitation. The combination of a drawing with an object, the “writing table (A&O)" (2008) is a combination of a product and a ritual place for intellectual and creative work. The legs of the writing desk shaped like the letters alpha and omega are symbolic limits of the beginning and end of the work surface where something is created.
We can also find the motif of the work surface as a place where new (or “other”) connections can be made in the series of Svätopluk Mikyta’s latest work with the prosaic title of “Curtain” (2013). This is a large-scale work on paper where Mikyta’s ability to recycle materials, forms and content is fully displayed. He joins together drawing with lino prints on old office forms, monotypes of reproductions of forgotten books and re-paintings. He combines animal and plant motifs with abstract geometrical shapes and delicate linear structures. His characteristic “notice board aesthetics” corresponds with the need to create something other than a linear and chronological system of recording knowledge. Intuition and association play an important role. Mikyta’s aim is to bring back to life unnecessary things; he encodes forgotten pictures into new relations and creates a sort of open atlas of personal archaeology and geography.
Text: Gabriela Kisová
Moussa Kone (*1978, AT), graduate of the University of Applied Arts Vienna. In 2009 he received the Strabag Art Award, in 2012 he participated in the ISCP residency programme in New York. He is the founder of Art Critics Award (2006-2011) and of the public space Kunstklappe (2004-2007). He lives and works in Vienna (AT). Selected solo exhibitions: Charim Gallery Vienna (2013), Strabag Kunstforum Vienna (2010), Art Cologne „New Positions“ (2009). Selected group exhibitions: Artmuseum Sochi (2012), Townhouse Zürich (2012), das weisse haus Vienna (2011), Georg Kargl Fine Arts Vienna (2010), Künstlerhaus Dortmund (2010).
Svätopluk Mikyta (*1973, SK), graduate of Academy of Fine Arts and Design in Bratislava, studied at the Stuttgart Academy of Art and Design, in 2001-2002 stipendiary of the DAAD at the UDK Berlin (Prof. Bernd Koberling). In 2008 he won the Oskar Cepan Award for emerging Slovakian artists, in 2009 he participated in the ISCP residency programme in New York, in 2011 he won the Strabag Art Award. He is the co-founder of Banská St a nica Contemporary art project. He lives and works in Ilja (SK) and Brno (CZ). Selected solo exhibitions: Deák Erika Gallery Budapest (2013), annex 14 Bern (with Jerome Leuba in 2012), The Goma Madrid (2012), Gallery Dana Charkasi Vienna (2010). Selected group exhibitions: Galeria Plan B Berlin (2012), Slovak National Gallery Bratislava (2012), Fotogalerie Vienna (2012), Federica Schiavo Gallery Rome (2011), BWA Sokol Nowy Sacz (2011).
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